Comics Reviews: Superman 313, Action 473, Black Lightning 3

Superman 313 coverSuperman #313 – “The Only Way You’ll Save the Earth … Is Over My Dead Body!” –  Martin Pasko/Curt Swan/Dan Adkins

This one continues from last issue with a recap of what’s been going on; the journalists’ conference, the mysterious epidemic, Superman fighting Nam-Ek, and he and Supergirl confronting Amalak on his spaceship. Amalak gloats to a chained Supergirl that Superman taking Nam-Ek to Earth to cure the plague won’t work because it’s spread too much. Amalak figures Superman will be so distraught at not being able to save all the people that he’ll fall apart emotionally. Amalak prepares to kill Supergirl, but she busts loose and pounds him. On Earth, Superman brings Nam-Ek (still encased in quartz) to the treatmentSupergirl pounds Amalak center. Nam-Ek’s horn emanations start working right away and the patients begin to recover. On the spaceship, Supergirl is tying Amalak up when he breaks loose and surrounds himself with another impenetrable force field. He summons another electro-surrogate to fight her, while he prepares to strike at Superman again. He also reveals he knows Superman is Clark Kent. But Amalak’s fused gun has been overloading for the last few minutes, and it blows up the spaceship. On Earth, Clark Kent talks to Jamie, the kid from last issue, who’s getting tired of the quarantine at the hotel. A bunch more plague victims stumble into the lobby and Clark realizes (finally!) that the source of the plague is Superman jumped by alienstill in the hotel. He zaps the kid’s dog (again) and it runs off with his watch. He chases it so he can change to Superman, but before he can get back inside he’s jumped by a weird-looking alien. The alien says his name is Jevik and he slaps Superman around, then takes off. Supes follows him into the hotel and finds him disguised as Supergirl. She (or Jevik, rather) punches him out. Supes hears a ticking noise and finds Clark’s watch on the alien. He realizes Jevik was disguised as the stray dog Jamie found, and he’s been causing the plague. Superman is about to punch out the alien when it changes back to dog form and Jamie comes in, freaking out because Superman’s about to pulverize his pooch. Jamie gets in between Supes and the “dog” and says if Superman wants to destroy his pet, he’ll have to waste him too.last page Will Superman kill a kid? If this was one of the new DC movies, probably. But things were different in the Bronze Age. We’ll see how Superman solves his dilemma next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • Supergirl has the same powers as Superman, but he always seems to end up rescuing her. Even when she breaks her chains and decks Amalak, we find out that Amalak’s blaster malfunctioned because Supes partially melted it with his heat vision. Why not just have Supergirl melt the gun herself?
  • When Supergirl is fighting the electro-surrogate, some of the poses
    Supergirl choked
    The safe word is “kryptonite”.

    are a bit … sexualized. In one, Swan seems to have added a little extra detail; not to get too crass, but let’s just say Supergirl’s got her high beams on. Maybe she’s just really into chokeplay?

 

 

 

Action 473 coverAction #473 – “The Great Phantom Peril” – Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Tex Blaisdell

This continues the story of Faora escaping the Phantom Zone. At the end of last issue, she slapped Superman around and he ran away to the Phantom Zone to hide. We start this issue in the WGBS newsroom, where the staff are reviewing footage of Superman’s ass-kicking at Faora’s hands. Lois is arguing with Steve Lombard, who says a man is always stronger than a woman, even if they both have super powers. Lois says Faora could’ve used advanced martial arts techniques on Superman, then demonstrates on Steve … though that kinda proves his point about women being weaker physically. Supergirl goes to the Fortress of Solitude and finds a note from Superman, saying he went into the Phantom Zone to get away from Faora. Supergirl seems sad to learn her cousin’s a big wimp. In Metropolis, Faora’s cruising up and down the main drag, shattering windows with her sonic booms.

Faora shatters glass
Damn Kryptonian kids and their loud mufflers!

Steve Lombard mouths off (naturally) and she seemingly kills him. But he and Jimmy, along with a bunch of other citizens, end up in the Phantom Zone, while the criminals from the Zone appear and start wreaking havoc in Metropolis. Faora goes to the Fortress and smashes the Phantom Zone projector so Superman can’t return. But he’s already there—or so it seems—and jumps her. But it turns out to be just a Superman robot, which Faora quickly destroys. She leaves and the Phantom Supergirl observes the broken robot and starts to wonder. In Metropolis, theSuperman disguise criminals continue their super rampage, watched by a guy who looks like a 70s porn star. Faora comes back and uses her psychic bolts to subdue all the men, except for the stranger, who turns out to be Superman of course. Faora orders all the Zone criminals to attack and they start wailing on Superman. Phantom Batman and Green Lantern show up and tell Lois they were watching the disguised Superman earlier. He found Faora’s phasing device, which switched all the people on Earth with everyone in the Phantom Zone. Supes reversed the polarity (don’t look at me, that’s what the thought bubble says!), and set a delay so everything should switch back to normal soon. Of course, Superman’s taking a hell of a beating in the meantime.Superman fights villains We also see the Phantom Jackson Porter, whose delusions about his dead wife started this whole mess. Superman is finally captured and tells Faora her advanced telepathy was actually broadcasting her entire plan to him during their first fight. Just as she’s about to give him the “death touch”, everything flips back to normal … except Superman’s in the Phantom endZone too. But Supergirl rebuilds the projector and Supes is soon returned to Earth. They send Porter into the Zone to be with his beloved Katie—uh, I mean Faora. Yeah, something tells me they’ll definitely be doing it now.

Noticeable Things:

  • There’s more man-hating feminism on display in this issue.
  • I’m not sure how they found Superman so fast when they got him out of the Zone. Can the projector find specific people?
  • The ending, with Faora condemned to a lifetime with Jackson Porter, kinda reminds me of the end of the Star Trek episode “I, Mudd” where Harry Mudd is left on the planet with all the android copies of his wife.

Black Lightning 3 coverBlack Lightning #3 – “Every Hand Against Him” – Tony Isabella/Trevor von Eeden/Vince Colletta

This issue starts with a bunch of crooks watching a TV newscast of Clark Kent interviewing a cop named Henderson (who looks like Dick Tracy to me). We learn the cops are after Black Lightning for all the attacks against the 100, and they suspect him of being involved in the death of the dope dealer Joey Toledo. Of course, we know it was Merlyn who killed Toledo, but I guess the cops didn’t read last issue. Black Lightning shows up and pounds all the criminals as the TV report continues in the background. When all the thugs have been taken care of,Lightning vs thugs Lightning’s snitch, Two-Bits Tanner comes in. He’s been tipping Lightning off to the 100’s safehouses and he says he might have a line on the whereabouts of Tobias Whale, boss of the 100. Tanner says he’s trading info with a reporter who’s looking for a missing kid. Unfortunately, one of the thugs wakes up and overhears them talking. At the TV studio, Clark is advocating for Black Lightning, but Henderson seems to have a weird vendetta against him. Back at his hideout, Lightning asks his confidante Peter why the bulletproof aura he whipped up is making him stronger. Peter avoids the question, but thinks to himself that things are going just as planned. At school the next day, Jefferson Pierce (Lightning’s civilian ID) meets a new staff member named Lynn Stewart. He seems to already know her, but isn’t thrilled to Whale vs Lightningsee her again. That night, Lightning invades Whale’s HQ and runs into an ambush. Lightning gets away and takes out some thugs when they come after him. Somebody tipped off the cops too, so Henderson and his officers show up and head upstairs, hoping to arrest Lightning and Whale. Whale decks Lightning, but the cops show up before they can really fight. Whale takes off and when the cops are distracted, Lightning uses his electric belt to zap them so he can get away. After he leaves, Henderson keels over. Back at his hideout, Lightning figures Tanner tipped Whale and the cops, but Peter says the leak is probably Tanner’s reporter contact—who turns out to be Jimmy Olsen. We’ll see where that goes next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • I like that Isabella’s building things slowly, letting Pierce’s past come out bit by bit.
  • I like von Eeden’s art, too. It fits the character and the tone of the series.
  • We don’t find out why Pierce is upset with Lynn Stewart for a while, but she must’ve done something really bad for him to be mad at a fine woman like her.Lynn Stewart
  • According to the letters page, Inspector Henderson was originally aRobert Shayne character on the old Superman TV show, played by Robert Shayne. The character was created so Superman could have a “sounding-board” to dialogue with on the show (much as Jimmy Olsen was on the old radio show). The article included a photo of Robert Shayne in the role; he doesn’t look much like Dick Tracy, though.

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